Former City of Atlanta Deputy Chief of Staff sentenced to federal prison for accepting bribes
ATLANTA - Evelyn Katrina Taylor-Parks has been sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to accept bribe payments while she served as the City of Atlanta’s Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor.
“Let Ms. Taylor-Parks’ case be a warning to any and all public officials who abuse their power for personal gain, or for the benefit of their associates to the detriment of the taxpayers: we will thoroughly and appropriately investigate such criminal breaches of fiduciary duty and bring them to justice irrespective of the dollar amount of the ill-gotten gain,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.
“Parks abused the trust placed in her by the people of the city of Atlanta,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI and its partners in law enforcement will not tolerate those who choose to try to influence established and proper government procedures. We would urge anyone who witnesses similar activity by public officials to contact the FBI.”
“In order to regain trust in our local government, we will continue to investigate and recommend criminal charges against those who engage in corrupt governmental practices,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS- Criminal Investigation. “The sentence handed down today should deter those who seek to peddle political influence and access for personal financial gain while in a public service position.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: From approximately January 2010 to May 2018, Parks served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of the City of Atlanta. As the Deputy Chief of Staff, Parks had various responsibilities, including managing core City of Atlanta operations, coordinating with the Mayor and the executive staff to execute the administration’s policies, and facilitating the procurement process.
In her position, Parks signed an annual Financial Disclosure Statement attesting that she was not self-employed or employed by any business or entity other than the City of Atlanta, and that she had not received more than $5,000 in annual income from any source other than the City of Atlanta. Parks executed the Financial Disclosure Statements under penalty of perjury in 2011, 2012, and 2013, stating she was not employed outside the City of Atlanta.
A vendor, who was an executive with a firm in Atlanta during Parks’ tenure as the Deputy Chief of Staff, sought work through his businesses with the City of Atlanta, and the City of Atlanta ultimately awarded one project to the vendor’s firm worth $99,999.
From late-2011 to mid-2013, Parks met privately with the vendor on multiple occasions. During these meetings, Parks and the vendor discussed various topics, including the vendor’s desire to obtain work with the City of Atlanta, the idea of sole-source contracting, and the process by which the vendor could obtain a sole-source contract with the City of Atlanta. At the time of these meetings, the vendor was actively seeking projects and work with Atlanta, and at times was performing work for the City of Atlanta.
The vendor paid Parks thousands of dollars and paid for various services on Parks’ behalf, while seeking work with the City of Atlanta. In return for these bribe payments, Parks knew that the vendor wanted her to use her position and power as the Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff to assist the vendor with the City of Atlanta’s contracting and procurement process, and to assist the vendor in the future when needed.
In exchange for accepting money from the vendor:
1. Parks met regularly with the vendor, took the vendor’s calls, and responded to the vendor’s emails.
2. She organized and arranged meetings between the vendor and high-ranking employees within the City of Atlanta and with a member of the City Council.
3. Based on the high-level nature of her position, Parks knew that when she contacted City of Atlanta employees, on behalf of the vendor, those employees would feel compelled to comply with her requests.
4. Parks provided the vendor with information and advice regarding the processes and procedures to obtain a sole-source contract with the City of Atlanta.
5. She assisted the vendor in obtaining a City Council Resolution allowing the City of Atlanta to negotiate a sole-source contract with the vendor that was possibly worth millions of dollars. Parks believed that the vendor intended to use the resolution in an attempt to obtain government contracts outside of Atlanta.
6. She also facilitated and expedited the process for the vendor to receive payment for work the vendor had completed for the City of Atlanta.
In total, Parks admitted to taking bribe payments from the vendor on 7 or 8 occasions, where each bribe was between $1,500 and $2,000. Parks also received from the vendor a Louis Vuitton handbag, a cruise to Mexico, and a trip to Chicago. Parks never disclosed her ongoing financial relationship with the vendor and/or the vendor’s firm on her Financial Disclosure Statements to the City Atlanta. As a result, from January to July 2013, the City of Atlanta issued payments of $19,900, $11,750, $15,000, $17,200, and $36,149 to the vendor’s firm.
On November 16, 2017 and on February 15, 2018, Parks was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During those interviews, Parks falsely stated that she had never taken money from the vendor.
On August 15, 2018, Evelyn Katrina Taylor-Parks, 49, of Douglas County, Georgia, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging her with one count of conspiratorial bribery. Based on her conviction, Parks was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay approximately $15,000 in restitution.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis, Chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.